As the Red Sox funnel their way to Fort Myers for the start of spring training, the expectations will be very high for Boston in 2017. After winning 90 games and an American League East title in 2016 the anticipation is the Red Sox could be even better in 2017 after a great offseason. The most important player on the Red Sox roster might be right fielder Mookie Betts who should have won the AL MVP in 2016. Instead, the award was given to Angels’ center fielder Mike Trout. Looking back to last season, did Betts get robbed of the award?
What does MVP stand for? Well, of course, it means ‘Most Valuable Player’ but often times people don’t seem to grasp the concept the MVP award. First, you have to look at how each player impacted their team. Boston as previously stated won 90 games and an AL East division crown. Without Betts, it’s possible that the Red Sox don’t even make the playoffs. Betts recorded a 9.6 War (Wins Above Replacement) in 2016 which means he basically won 9 games by himself. Without Betts production, Boston probably doesn’t make the postseason in Big Papi’s final season. The AL East had 3 teams make the postseason which means they needed every bit of Mookie.
In 2016 the Angels won 74 games which were good enough for a 4th place finish. I’m sorry but how much value does Mike Trout really have when his team gets 4th place in the division? Mike Trout did record a higher War (10.6) than Betts but what difference does it make? Would the Angels get last place instead of 4th? No player was more ‘Valuable’ than Mookie in 2016. Then again should we take anything seriously from the people that vote for the award; the BBWAA (Baseball writers Association of America). They still haven’t figured out that baseball is one word which should prove they have no credibility.
When you talk about what Mookie Betts did in 2016 you often times forget about the versatility he has. To start the 2016 season Betts was Boston’s leadoff hitter. Betts did his job getting on base and swiping bags left and right. Later in the season, Betts filled a different void. Boston had the best offense in baseball but they weren’t hitting many home runs. Boston put Betts in the 4 hole and watched him hit home run after home run despite being only 5’9″, 180. That’s called value, doing your job and doing what the team asks you to do.
From an offensive standpoint, Betts has the edge over Trout. Betts’ batting average of .318 was higher Trout’s (.315) and Betts had 123 more at bats to have to maintain that average. Betts hit 31 home runs which were 2 more than Trout. He also had 13 more RBI’s than Trout. It’s hard for me to see an argument for Trout offensively. Mike Trout did lead the league in walks but he also played for a terrible team which gave teams an incentive to pitch around him.
Defensively Betts was the far superior player despite what people would probably think. Mookie had a defensive War of 2.8 which is higher than Trout’s 1.0. That means Mookie’s defense alone almost won 3 games! That’s incredible. Betts made 1 error all season compared to 4 for the guy who actually won the award. One of the most amazing sabermetric statistics out there is called defensive runs saved. This stats captures the entire player’s defensive value which factors his ability to track down fly balls by tracking range and ability to throw base runners out. Guess what? Mookie Betts led baseball with 32 defensive runs saved which are 10 more than any player in baseball (The statistical view can be seen here). For comparison, the great Mike Trout only had 6. Fellow Red Sox teammate Jackie Bradley was actually a superior defender to Trout as well. A big reason for that was Betts threw out 14 runners this year from right field. When you add up the resumes defensively, giving the award to Mike Trout doesn’t make much sense.
You can obviously see that Betts was flat out robbed of the MVP award in 2016. Heading into 2017, hopefully, this will only bring fuel to Mookie’s fire. For Trout and the Angels, they have probably destined themselves for 4th place again. Maybe it’s time for LA to consider moving Trout to a contender and starting over? Mookie Betts is the ‘Most Valuable Player’ in baseball right now.